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Posts Tagged ‘George Ledes’

Back to Business With Walter Isaacson, Joe Kernen and Time Inc.’s CEO

LunchAtMichaelsWe’re back! The power lunch crowd eased back into the swing of things with a fairly low key, celeb-free scene at Michael’s today. While there were plenty of head honchos filling out the dining room (Time Inc’s CEO Joe Ripp, NBCU’s Lauren Zalaznick and Discovery ID’s Henry Schleiff), there was a  touch of post-Labor Day letdown in the air (Where did the summer go?), but no matter — it’s time to get back to business.

I was joined today by Newell Turner, editorial director of Hearst Design Group and EIC of House Beautiful, Shax Riegler (don’t you just love that name?) House Beautiful’s executive editor and Hearst Magazines’ PR guru Michael McGraw. I don’t mind telling you that our table was one of the more lively spots in the dining room as we dished about our favorite show (Is Paul Giamatti really going to play the love interest of Lady Mary on Downton Abbey? Did Dan Stevens commit career suicide? ), pondered how people could possibly enjoy their vacations when they spend all their time posting photos from their holidays on Instagram and agreed Bravo needs to devote less PR oxygen to Housewives and give more attention to Property Envy which features one of my favorite designers, Mary McDonald. It’s like Fashion Police for the real estate-obsessed. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Shax Riegler, Diane Clehane and Newell Turner

Having decided those important issues, we settled in for an interesting chat about the exciting things House Beautiful has in store this fall. Between bites of salad nicoise, Newell (who looked dashing in his Ralph Lauren linen suit), told me all about his plans for a new series of “pop up” editors who collaborated with him on a series of issues beginning in October. He told me the idea came about when he and the magazine’s Editor-at-Large, Chesie Breen “were stuck in the airport in Barbados” and were “killing time over a glass of rose.” Nice work if you can get it.

Right there on the spot, Newell decided on bringing in a series of guest editors christened “pop up editors” who could create issues that had a “curated, one-of-kind feeling” bringing their particular interest and expertise into the mix. His first order of business once he was back in New York was to “sell it to my bosses (at Hearst) and tell them that everything we did would communicate House Beautiful.” To do so, “We eased into it with Chesie as our first pop up editor,” explained Newell. “Which was great because she was already part of our world.” Still, he was interested in bringing a fresh perspective (“We get so insulated”) and started off by asking each pop up editor to “bring everything to the table.”

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Eliot Spitzer on CNN’s Identity Crisis: ‘There’s No Objectivity in Network News’

1003_mockup.gifIt was the usual Wednesday mix of moguls (Jon Tisch), media men (Richard Beckman, Mike Perlis) and television honchos (Henry Schleiff) today at Michael’s. With this Type A crowd, summer vacations are for slackers — at least until August. From the looks of things, there were plenty of deals being done (or at least pitched) between bites.

I was joined today by Eliot Spitzer and Lisa Linden. The last time the three of us had lunch, New York’s former governor was headlining his own show on CNN, In The Arena, which replaced the short-lived Parker Spitzer which he launched with co-host Kathleen Parker in 2010. About a year ago, CNN boss Ken Jautz cancelled In The Arena in a shakeup of the network’s primetime lineup. “I’m very happy with the show we did and the ratings we got, which were good to compared to what they’re getting now,” Eliot told me.  Not surprisingly, he says he prefers and is better suited for Current TV’s politically charged environment. “Current has an ideology. There’s no pretense; we’re open about it. CNN tries very hard to position itself as an non-ideological news network, but there’s no objectivity in network news. It would be better for all of us if we just accepted that.” Therein lies the major issue with his former employer’s rating woes, says Eliot: ”CNN has a serious question of what it is and they’ve got to answer that.”

Having stepped in seemingly hours after Keith Olbermann was booted from Current TV, Eliot took to the airwaves with the aptly titled Viewpoint in Olbermann’s old time slot with no promotional campaign or PR machine to attract viewers (although Olbermann’s own campaign to get his side of the story out gave the fledgling network plenty of attention). But the show does have co-founder Al Gore‘s support (he’s been a guest on Viewpoint) and Eliot says Joel Hyatt is very involved in the “day-to-day” running of the network. “They have been great. I’ve known Al since 1999 and I like him very much. He’s a great guy.” (BTW you can see what Joel had to say about all those supposed dust-ups with Olbermann in this Mediabistro interview.)

Eliot Spitzer and Diane Clehane
Eliot Spitzer and Diane Clehane

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Al Roker, Barbara Bush and Peggy Siegal Fetes Elizabeth Olsen

1003_mockup.gifWe were disappointed to hear that we’d missed seeing Wendy Williams who’d come by on Monday for lunch with her parents. A little birdie told me that the talk show diva issued this rallying cry to mom and dad before departing to face the lone paparazzo waiting outside: “Get ready! Here we go! Here we go!”  Today the few shooters milling around outside had a little more to work with since starlet of the moment, Elizabeth Olsen, was being feted in the Garden Room. Meanwhile, the main event in the dining room featured its usual mix of moguls (Barry Diller, Ron Perelman),  talking heads (Al Roker) and high-profile editors (Jon Meacham). Just business as usual for Wednesday at Michael’s.

I was joined today by Good Housekeeping editor-in-chief Rosemary Ellis, the magazine’s new money columnist Carmen Wong Ulrich and Hearst’s executive director of public relations, Alexandra Carlin. With 24 million (yes, you read that right) readers, this is not your mother’s Good Housekeeping. With Ellis at the helm, GH is a must read for the multi-tasking, multifaceted woman (Is there any other kind?) and filled with smart, savvy content that covers everything from food and fashion to family and finances.  And, while many books have retooled their marketing message for a niche reader, Good Housekeeping is a media behemoth with some really impressive reach. “We’re not age specific. We have kazillions of 28-year-old readers and kazillions of 34-year-old readers,” says Ellis. “More than the magazines that target them.”  Rosemary, whose editor letters are often inspired by her own family life and her adorable daughter, Lucy (“I figure I have a few more years before she says no more”) says Good Housekeeping offers “one stop shopping  — Who has time to read seven different magazines?”

We all agreed that the one topic on every woman’s mind these days is money. It makes sense, says Rosemary, because 80 percent of all  spending decisions are made by the woman of the house. So, Rosemary tapped Carmen to dispense her unique brand of uncommon financial common sense culled from years of experience deciphering today’s often confusing and confounding financial landscape. “I live for this,” says Carmen, who first became interested in money through her father. “I’ve been watching stocks since I was eight.”

Carmen Wong Ulrich, Diane Clehane and Rosemary Ellis
Carmen Wong Ulrich, yours truly and Rosemary Ellis

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Barbara Walters and Vernon Jordan Make Appearances; NBC’s David Corvo Serves Up TV Dish

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It’s been hard enough to keep track of the steady stream of A-listers that pour into Michael’s on any given Wednesday, but this afternoon really kept me hopping. While the usual roster of boldface names traded air kisses and table hopped in the front room, the garden room was filled to the brim for a luncheon hosted by Patricia Duff to celebrate The Gray Zone, the first novel from her longtime pal, producer and screenwriter Daphna Ziman. Perched at the bar with my friend, designer David Biscaye who will soon be off to London and Torino, Italy in search of treasures for his clients, I nabbed Daphna for a quick chat before she could join her guests that included author Naomi Wolf, Debbie Bancroft, Patty Raynes, artist Mark Kostabi and actress Beverly Todd. (You might recall Beverly’s scene stealing performance in Crash as a drug addicted mother devastated by the death of her son.)

Daphna told me she got the idea for the book two years ago in the midst of watching her marriage implode. She found it “empowering” to write about a heroine who flees an abusive household and becomes involved in a personal crusade to stop human trafficking. “I was stuck in the horrific reality of a divorce but I was able to live in another world through my character,” said the author. While the novel is a work of fiction, Daphna knows her subject matter well. She is founder of CUN (Children Uniting Nations) and the chairperson of ABC LOVE (Adoption Brings Children Love). An adoptive mother of two, she is passionate about stopping the trafficking of children and will be speaking out on the subject during her book tour that includes a spot on tonight’s broadcast of NBC’s Nightly News.

Here’s a rundown on today’s crowd:

1.  David Poltrack of CBS presiding over a table full of business types

2. Peter Brown

3. Producer Jean Doumanian, Barbara Lieberman and Vidicom’s Christy Ferer

4. Mike Ovitz with a well-heeled gent we didn’t get to meet

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Kerry Kennedy & Jackie Author Come Face To Face

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Sometimes it seems as if all roads lead to Michael’s — well, at least on Wednesdays. Today, the planets aligned to bring together folks with some interesting six-degrees-of-separation connections. I was talking to ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong who introduced me to Greg Lawrence, author of Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (St. Martins). Greg interviewed over 125 writers and editors who worked with Jackie during her 19 years at Viking Press. (The excerpt that ran in Vanity Fair recently was dishy and full of colorful details of Jackie’s life as a working girl. The paperback edition comes out this summer.) Turns out Greg worked with Jackie on three books, including one with his former wife, ballerina Gelsey Kirkland. Their memoir, Dancing on My Grave, caused quite an uproar at the time for its revelations. “It was quite scandalous,” recalled Greg, smiling at the memory.

That got me thinking. Since Greg knew one of the most famous members of the Kennedy family pretty well, I asked if he thought Caroline Kennedy was really behind the campaign that got The History Channel to drop their plans to air The Kennedys mini-series. “Oh, definitely,” he told me. “Caroline is very sensitive about these things,  and since she has a documentary with ABC and a book with Hyperion planned on her own about Jackie, she was able to stop it.”

Before he could say more, Kerry Kennedy walked up to say hello to Joe (a longtime friend of the Kennedy family) unaware there was a journalist in her midst who had delved into the life of a Kennedy for fun and profit. When Joe introduced Kerry to Greg and told her about his book, I observed what appeared to be a cautiously cordial response. It must be surreal to see your relative on the cover of a book someone is holding only to find out the author of that book is the person you’re talking to, although I’m guessing  it’s not all that unusual if you’re a Kennedy.  We were saved from any further awkwardness when Henry Schleiff (who knows everyone) grabbed Kerry for a big hug and pulled her aside for a little chat.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Kerry Kennedy, presiding over a table of casually clad diners

2. Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer, having what looked to be a very intense conversation with uber agent Wayne Kabak

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong with director Susan Stroman, Ed Victor and his lovely wife, Carol

4. Hudson News CEO James S. Cohen with a doppelganger power lunch pal

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Rachel Uchitel Creates A Stir at Michael’s

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Having covered the scene at Michael’s for some time now, I’ve been witness to plenty of Fellini-esque tableaus where the head-spinning mix of stars and strivers, masters of the universe, and alien-like actors never ceases to amuse and occasionally amaze me, but today was off the charts. What started as an afternoon of ramped up power lunches (Harvey Weinstein and James Dolan! RogerAiles and Jon Meacham!) turned into a game of Spot The Tabloid Temptress. I just happened to be at the front desk when regular Henry Schleiff came in followed by a blonde, pillow-lipped gal hiding behind her huge sunglasses. I immediately recognized her as Rachel Uchitel.  What was Tiger Woods‘ infamous mistress doing with Henry? I couldn’t wait to ask him. Before I could, she darted around us, averting my eyes and making her way into the dining room. Turns out she was on her way to meet Vanity Fair’s Michael Callahan. “Did you see who that was?” I asked Henry. When I told him, he quipped, “I didn’t recognize her with her clothes on!”

Even though the party girl-turned-private eye (according to The New York Post, she’s on her first case here in New York and awaiting her gun license) and Callahan were seated behind a pillar in the back of the room, word of her arrival spread like wildfire.  I wonder what the two of them talked about during their fairly quick lunch. Could it be that Graydon Carter has greenlit yet another piece on Woods? It would be quite cheeky of him to put Uchitel on Tiger’s tail, wouldn’t it? It seems more likely that Callahan is penning a piece on Uchitel’s post-Tiger life as a self-confessed recovering “love addict.” Stay tuned …

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. It’s Harvey’s world and we just live in it. Shortly after noon, Harvey Weinstein arrived with two guys — one looked like Robert Pattinson‘s younger brother and the other like Vladmir Putin. Once the trio was seated, Harvey busied himself playing with his phone while his two babysitters? bodyguards? couldn’t sit still. One spent the entire time pacing between the table and the front door, while the other hopped up every other minute to look out the window as he talked on the phone. Could they have been tracking Harvey’s lunch date? All I know is when Cablevision’s James Dolan finally arrived, they took off.  Harvey then took out a pair of earphones to listen to a recording of some importance while Dolan sat by impassively. I don’t know what the hell really went on, but observing the scene felt like watching an episode of Mission Impossible.

2. PMK’s Cindi Berger and a handsome fellow we didn’t get to meet

3. Political commentator and marketing maestro Robert Zimmerman and Tad Smith

4. Random House EVP Jon Meacham and Fox News chief Roger Ailes, chowing down on burgers and fries. Jon arrived early and spent the time waiting for Ailes by chatting with the staff. We couldn’t help but notice that the ex-Newsweek editor looks a lot more relaxed since leaving the struggling magazine. It’s Tina Brown‘s problem now! Their table was clearly the center of gravity today as pretty much anyone who is anybody (read: all the suits in the room) stopped by to pay homage.

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Vernon Jordan, Paul Shaffer and Richard Belzer Grab a Bite at Michael’s

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— DIANE CLEHANE

We missed Harvey Keitel (who, we hear, is a pretty nice guy) by a day, but the usual suspects kept things hopping in the dining room at Michael’s today. By now, we’ve grown used to seeing Richard Belzer with his dog Bebe (pronounced Bay-Bay en Francais, in case you were wondering) in tow for his 1 pm lunches every now and again. But we did perk up when Vernon Jordan came in. Talk about presence!

I had a chance to catch up with one of my favorite regulars, ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstong who, when I first started writing this column, made it his personal mission to introduce me to as many movers and shakers as possible. The native Texan with the heart of gold just can’t help himself when it comes to do-good deeds. This afternoon he was full of fire telling me about the upcoming benefit for The Hole in The Wall Gang Camp on October 21 at Lincoln Center. Joe spent seven years as a camp counselor during the summer at the original Connecticut camp — He now proudly bears the title of ‘Mr. Ambassador’ for the organization — and can’t say enough about the kids whose lives are forever changed thanks to Paul Newman. “They make you realize what is really important, ” says Joe.

So, if you want to help continue Newman’s good works and spend an evening rubbing shoulders with Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep, Joanne Woodward and Renee Zellweger, get out those checkbooks and buy a ticket to the gala. Tell them Joe sent you …

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Self‘s Lucy Danziger and some leggy leather clad gals from L’Oreal talking ‘stress management’

2. Law & Order SVU’s Richard Belzer and David Letterman‘s band leader Paul Shaffer

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and O’s book editor Sara Nelson.

4. Leonard Lauder and a casually elegant gal who, upon greeting the cosmetic king exclaimed, “This is the high point of my week!”

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Ralph Lauren, Jenna Bush, and the Media Mob

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It was good to be back at my regular perch at Michael’s today after a nasty bug kept me home last week. I returned to a scene buzzing with a head-spinning mix of fashion designers, famous faces, and the requisite media moguls. Don’t these people ever take a day off? I’m guessing not.

Today I was joined by W. Randall Jones (‘Randy’ to his friends), who I got to know right here in the dining room. Randy is, without fail, always the best dressed man in the room. (He credits Martin Greenfield, the Brooklyn-based tailor to Bill Clinton and Colin Powell, for his sartorial success.) When Randy arrived looking as dashing as ever in his three-piece navy pinstriped suit, we got right down to dishing.

This is a man who knows just about everyone, which is no surprise considering he’s had a stellar 30-year career in media. He launched Worth magazine in 1992 and was the youngest publisher in magazine history when he nabbed the top spot at Esquire at the ripe old age of 29. The self-described “serial entrepreneur” also launched The American Benefactor, the first magazine about philanthropy from the donor’s perspective and released his first book, The Greatest Stock Picks of All Time, to plenty of attention in 2004.

The tastiest dish is off the record, but I can tell you his latest tome, The Richest Man in Town, has been a big success. It vaulted to the number one spot on Amazon right after Randy appeared on Wall Street Week with Maria Bartiromo. These days, he’s working on a top secret television project. We can’t wait to hear more.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. The ‘Imber Gang’: Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Jeff Greenfield, Andy Bergman, and Michael Kramer. A photographer from The New York Times was on hand to capture everything for an upcoming piece on the good doctor for the Style section. We’ll be looking for it.

2. Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and The Daily Beast’s Bryan Curtis who, when I asked what he did for the website replied, “Whatever Tina tells me to do.” Nice to meet you!

4. Ralph Lauren (who kept his sunglasses on throughout lunch) and Buffy Birrittella, the designer’s longtime executive vice president of women’s design and advertising. We spotted them celebrating Buffy’s birthday with champagne and nibbling on some chocolate confection while chatting with the steady stream of well wishers, like Harper’s Bazaar editor Glenda Bailey.

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Lunch: Charlie Rose, Fern Mallis & Tina Brown

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Forget about the summer doldrums: Even though the sun’s not shining today, Michael’s was hot, hot, hot and so jam-packed I could barely get a bite in edgewise as I tried to keep up with the air-kissing action in the dining room. Despite the dreadful weather (and its dampening effect on rental prices in the Hamptons — we can’t relate but maybe we can score a bargain for August), the usual suspects were on the scene and downright chipper to mix and mingle with fellow media mavens.

I was thrilled to be lunching with my good pals Lisa Silhanek (who knows everyone) and IMG’s Fern Mallis who, when she’s not running New York Fashion Week, moonlights as a guest judge on Bravo’s The Fashion Show with Isaac Mizrahi. We were joined by two charming and enterprising entrepreneurs, Fermin Perez and Carlos Lorenzo of Global Events, a worldwide event production company. The guys are producing the Spanish Mile in SoHo tomorrow night, where 1500 fashionistas are expected to tour all the Spanish-themed and owned businesses in the neighborhood. Fern is acting as ‘ambassador’ for the evening’s festivities. Where does she find the time?

I just had to ask Fern how her fledgling career as a reality show star was going. “It’s been great,” she says. Incidentally, Fern wears her own clothes on the show (seems she’s been getting emails from fans inquiring about her wardrobe). On Friday, Fern and the gang will be shooting the second to last episode at Cipriani downtown, where six finalists will stage a runway show before a full house (word is those plucky Housewives from New Jersey and New York will be there). Then, America will have 24 hours to vote on a winner, who’ll be announced on the season finale next month. Stay tuned!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Charlie Rose and pals

2. Jim Wiatt

3. Town & Country’s Pamela Fiori with a striking silver-haired gal and a gent who looked so familiar, but we just couldn’t place him…

4. Cosmo editrix Kate White (Long time no see!) with Linda Fairstein, who arrived sporting ‘Cy Vance for DA’ buttons on both lapels of her jacket. Linda (who hates Kindle, by the way — “I’m an old fashioned book person”) tells all about what it takes to churn out a book a year (she’s written 11!) and how the Internet is marketing Mecca for aspiring writers everywhere in the latest installment of mediabistro.com’s So What Do You Do? series.

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Lunch: A Heaping Helping of The Usual Suspects

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— DIANE CLEHANE

It’s a lo-cal edition of ‘Lunch’ today. After all, you can’t expect to indulge in a diet rich in celebs and boldface names every week. We’ve spoiled you, I know. (By the way, if you’re looking to chat with some big-time media mavens and news makers, don’t miss the first TVNewser Summit on March 10.) After settling in at the bar, I went searching for tasty tidbits and found some of the regulars ready to serve up some interesting morsels. Men’s Health honcho David Zinczenko, who was praised in Keith Kelly‘s column in today’s New York Post as “a winner” and “the face” of Rodale, returned to the dining room after a long absence. “I’ve been having a lot more lunches at my desk,” Dave told me. Fresh off a round of appearances for his latest Eat This, Not That blockbuster book, Dave was lunching with Michael Caruso, the former editor-in-chief of Men’s Journal now with OpenGate Capital, the equity fund that recently bought TV Guide. No one multitasks like Dave, who was thrilled to show me the April issues of Men’s Health and its increasingly successful sister, Women’s Health, which boasts its first-ever beauty ‘flip cover.’ Dave is thrilled with new-ish hire Michele Promaulayko as editor for Women’s Health and was singing her praises with what she’d done with her first issue. “She’s already a star,” says Dave.

As luck would have it, Michele was right across the room lunching with The Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis so I went over and introduced myself. Michele told me she was “thrilled” to be with the title, and we chatted about the always interesting experience of interviewing and shooting celebs and dished over what makes for a great fashion story. I told her I loved the piece on dressing for work. It looked terrific and oh-so-chic. We both agreed service has its place, but the pictures have to dazzle. And in her premiere issue, they do. “Fashion cred is important,” Michele told me. You’ve got it.

At the bar, there was plenty of conversation among Michael McCarty and his staff about the design for the new label for the upcoming release of his 2005 Pinot Noir from The Malibu Vineyard Rambla Pacifico. It’s his first since replanting in 2000 (in case you were wondering). We cast our vote to stay with the classic but modern look of the 2004 label. Sommelier Seth Liebman tells me the talk also turned to wine yesterday when Jack Kliger, an avid collector, wanted to enjoy a glass of 1970 Les Forts de Latour and didn’t want the rest of the bottle of the impressive vintage to go to waste, so he graciously offered some to director Stephen Daldry. Cheers!

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Steve Rubenstein presiding over a table of movers and shakers including Marty Bandier

2. Peter Brown with another distinguished gent (Update: That distinguished gent was New York Daily News editor-in-chief and deputy publisher Martin Dunn)

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong and Lisa Caputo

4. David Zinczenko and Michael Caruso

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